James Comey appeared on Fox News with Chris Wallace on Sunday to discuss the inspector general’s report clearing the FBI of any wrongdoing in the investigation into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — and he didn’t get an easy reception at the conservative news network.
According to The Hill, the anchor and the former director of the FBI sat down on Fox News Sunday to go over the details of the report, which confirmed that there was sufficient evidence for the agency to have opened its Russia probe. At the same time, the report alleged that the FBI had made some serious errors during its investigation.
Wallace pushed Comey, saying that in the wake of the report, the former FBI head had been making rounds celebrating the victory, but the Fox anchor wondered if his comments this week were justifiable. In recent days, Democrats and Republicans have expressed polar opposite points of view on the report’s findings, with conservatives saying that it revealed wrongdoing on the FBI’s part, and Democrats saying it exonerates the agency almost entirely and contradicts Trump’s claims that the probe was politically motivated.
“Maybe it turns upon how we understand the word,” Comey responded. “What I mean is the FBI was accused of treason, of illegal spying, of tapping Mr. Trump’s wires illegally, of opening an investigation without justification, of being a criminal conspiracy to defeat and then unseat a president. All of that was nonsense.”
Comey, who has been a target of Trump’s ire, admitted that while the FBI wasn’t guilty of criminal acts, he conceded that some of the work had been sloppy. This came after Wallace pointed out that the inspector general found 17 errors in the application for a warrant to wiretap presidential aide Carter Page.
“He’s right. I was wrong. I was overconfident in the procedures the FBI and Justice had built over 20 years. I thought they were robust enough. It’s incredibly hard to get a FISA. I was overconfident in those. He’s right. There was real sloppiness,” Comey said.
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Wallace also slammed Comey for appearing to take a backseat during the investigation, saying that the former FBI head made it seem as though he was “a bystander, an eyewitness.” The Fox host reminded Comey that he was the director of the FBI and should have taken a more hands-on approach.
Comey agreed that he was responsible for the errors in the process and said that the department needs to look at whether or not the mistakes were a one-off or something more systemic.